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Getting Your Belongings from Your Former Home

Other Protection Issues

With a writ of entry, you may get your personal items from your residence (or former residence) when you're not being allowed in.

NOTE: The following information only applies to an application filed on or after September 1, 2021. An application filed before September 1, 2021, is governed by the law in effect on the date the application was filed.

My personal items are in my former residence and I’m not being allowed access.

If you are not being allowed into your residence (or former residence), you can apply for a writ that lets you enter, with a peace officer, to get specific personal items. This also applies if you are trying to get personal items that belong to your dependent (like your child).

See Texas Property Code 24A.002(a).

What specific personal items can I get from the residence?

You can get only the following types of items from the residence:

(1) medical records;

(2) medicine and medical supplies;

(3) clothing;

(4) childcare items;

(5) legal or financial documents;

(6) checks in your name;

(7) bank or credit cards in your name;

(8) employment records;

(9) personal identification documents;

(10) copies of electronic records containing legal or financial documents;

(11) assistance animals or service animals that you or your dependent use;

(12) your wireless communication devices or your dependent’s wireless communication devices; or

(13) tools, equipment, books, and devices used by you in your trade or profession.

See Texas Property Code 24A.002(b)(4).

Where do I apply for a writ authorizing me to enter the residence?

If you and the person living there have an ongoing divorce, annulment, or post-divorce property division suit, apply for the writ in the court where that suit is pending. 

If you are no longer married to the person living there, apply for the writ in the court where the divorce (or annulment) was finalized.

Otherwise, apply to a justice court.

See Texas Property Code 24A.002(a-1).

What must my application for a writ to enter include?

Your application for a writ authorizing you to enter the residence must:

  1. state that you are unable to enter the residence because the current occupant of the residence has either denied you access to the residence or because the current occupant of the residence poses a clear and present danger of family violence to you or your dependent;
  2. state that, to the best of your knowledge, you are not:
    1. the subject of an active protective order under Title 4 of the Texas Family Code;
    2. the subject of a magistrate's order for emergency protection under Article 17.292 of the Code of Criminal Procedure;
    3. the subject of another court order that prohibits your entry unto the residence; or
    4. otherwise prohibited by law from entering the residence;
  3. state whether, to the best of your knowledge:
    1. you and the current occupant are parties in a pending suit under Title 1 of the Family Code (the Marriage Relationship);
    2. your right to possession of the personal items you are seeking to retrieve is subject to a divorce decree or annulment where you and the current occupant are parties;
  4. allege that you or your dependent require only the types of personal items mentioned above;
  5. describe with specificity the items that you intend to retrieve;
  6. allege that you or your dependent will suffer personal harm if the items listed in the application are not retrieved promptly; and
  7. include a lease or other documentary evidence that shows you are currently or were formerly authorized to occupy the residence.

See Texas Property Code 24A.002(b).

When can the court issue a writ of entry?

The court may issue a writ authorizing you, the applicant, to enter a residence to retrieve your personal property if the court finds that:

  1. you are unable to enter the residence because the current occupant of the residence has denied you access to the residence to retrieve your personal property or the personal property of your dependent;
  2. you are not:
    1. the subject of an active protective order under Title 4 of the Texas Family Code;
    2. the subject of a magistrate's order for emergency protection under Article 17.292 of the Code of Criminal Procedure;
    3. the subject of another court order that prohibits your entry unto the residence; or
    4. otherwise prohibited by law from entering the residence;
  3. there is a risk of personal harm to you or your dependent if the items listed in your application are not retrieved promptly;
  4. you are currently or were formerly authorized to occupy the residence according to a lease or other documentary evidence; and
  5. the current occupant received notice of the application and was provided an opportunity to appear before the court to contest the application.

See Texas Property Code24A.002(e).

Can a court issue a writ without notice and hearing to the current occupant?

Yes, a court may issue a temporary ex parte writ authorizing entry and property retrieval without a notice and hearing to the current occupant if the court finds that:

  1. the current occupant poses a clear and present danger of family violence to you, the applicant, or to your dependent;
  2. the personal harm that would be suffered by you or your dependent will be immediate and irreparable if the application is not granted; and
  3. you are unable to enter the residence to retrieve your personal property or the personal property of your dependent because the current occupant of the residence has denied you access to the residence; you are not the subject of an active protective order under Title 4 of the Texas Family Code, a magistrate's order for emergency protection under Article 17.292 of the Code of Criminal Procedure or another court order that prohibits your entry unto the residence; or otherwise prohibited by law from entering the residence; there is a risk of personal harm to you or your dependent if the items listed in your application are not retrieved promptly; and you are currently or were formerly authorized to occupy the residence according to a lease or other documentary evidence.

See Texas Property Code 24A.0021(a).

Can the judge contact the current occupant before granting a temporary ex parte writ?

Yes. The court may stop the hearing on a temporary ex parte writ to contact the current occupant by telephone to give the occupant a chance to go to the hearing or bring the personal property listed in the application to court.

But the court must resume the hearing before 5 p.m. that day whether or not the current occupant attends the hearing or brings the personal property to the court.

See Texas Property Code 24A.0021(c).

Do I need to execute a bond before the court can issue a writ?

Before the court can issue a writ authorizing an applicant to enter the residence, the applicant must execute a bond. However, a court issuing a temporary ex parte writ may waive the bond requirement. See Texas Property Code 24A.0021(b).

You can read more about the bond requirements in Texas Property Code 24A.002(c) and 24A.002(d).

Can I have a peace officer escort me to the residence to get my personal items if the court grants my application for a writ?

Yes. If the court grants an application for a writ or temporary ex parte writ authorizing entry and property retrieval, a peace officer must go with and help the applicant in making the authorized entry and retrieving the personal items listed in the application.

See Texas Property Code 24A.003(a).

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